The truth about your success is pretty grim. Success shines a light on your mistakes. Success often comes from the lessons you learned. They are most often carved out of experiences where you did not win. Where you lost, but got back up. Where you failed, but stood up to take another chance.
Your victories owe a huge debt to whatever keeps you going. In a word, we might call that thing: Persistence. Resilience. Patience.
Those words are all about your personal brand. They are all about what you have to bring to the fight, from the strength of your own work ethic, mental fortitude and psychological well-being.
But there are many mistakes from which you cannot pull yourself up without the help of others. These mistakes aren’t simple ones. They are the real big ones that happen at work. They are the ones that can destroy your career.
A client of mine is in finance. One mistake on a spreadsheet nearly cost her an entire lifetime of building up to the vaulted position she held. Yes, human error is still possible in the computation age. In the era of spreadsheets, a single human error on a data point cascades throughout the entire analysis (since the computation takes that error and spreads it like a virus).
So, no amount of persistence, resilience or patience could “cure” that mistake.
What saved my client was not anything she could do on her own. Not Persistence. Not Resilience. Not Patience.
Relationships saved her.
Kindness. Goodwill. Compassion.
You see, she had given these gifts to the people around her. Her boss. Her subordinates. Her peers. Her vendors. Since the day she was on the job, she showed them. Kindness. Goodwill. Compassion. It paid off. It’s called the Rule of Reciprocity. She earned what she received, even though she had hoped she would never need it.
In this life, you will be much more imperfect than perfect. You will make more mistakes than should be tolerated by your organization, by your boss or by yourself.
The smartest people are the kindest ones. They are betting realistically on the future. They know they will need forgiveness.